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New Five-Day Proposal Review Policy

Originally sent via email from the Office of the Vice President for Research

March 13, 2023

Dear colleagues,

I write to share an important policy update that impacts all Northwestern researchers submitting proposals through our Sponsored Research office.

The Office for Research has developed specific criteria for on-time proposal review and submission. Effective April 3, 2023, we will require proposals to be complete, ready-for-submission and routed to the Sponsored Research office at least five business days before the published deadline. Late or incomplete submissions will be considered at risk of non-approval and advancement. Proposals received one business day or less in advance of the sponsor deadline may be submitted only after on-time submissions in the workflow queue. Proposals that are returned for revision would be submitted in the order received once complete and ready for submission.

These changes are intended to increase workflow efficiencies that benefit all Northwestern research stakeholders. The new policy, which mirrors how many of our peers operate, will help the University remain compliant with sponsor guidelines during a time of increased expansion of federal and non-federal proposal review regulations.

At present, nearly 75 percent of ready-to-submit proposals arrive in Sponsored Research the day-of or one day before deadline, presenting an obvious workflow challenge as our research portfolio continues to grow. This trend is further complicated by the fact that about one-third of all proposals involve multiple iterations between Sponsored Research and the PI/research administrator. To serve you best, our Sponsored Research team needs sufficient time ahead of the application's deadline to verify a proposal's compliance with requirements and to ensure overall quality assurance.

I strongly encourage you to familiarize yourself with the new policy posted on the Sponsored Research website. There, you also will find an FAQ to help guide you through the new process. You also may direct questions to Shandra White, assistant vice president of Sponsored Research.

I hope you regard this new policy as I do: as beneficial and necessary to advance research excellence--for individual PIs and for Northwestern. Thank you for your partnership.

Milan Mrksich
Vice President for Research